Aloha to Maui-Style Kalbi Short Ribs

A feast of grilled Maui-style Korean ribs makes summer entertaining a breeze.

A feast of grilled Maui-style Korean ribs makes summer entertaining a breeze.


When I bite down on these sweet, gingery, soy-infused, toothsome short ribs, I practically feel the tropical sun on my face and the warm white sand between my toes.

“Maui-Style Kalbi Short Ribs” will do that to you.

It’s a taste of Hawaii — in your own home.

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. Maui native Alana Kysar, who blogs at Fix Feast Flair, may live in Los Angeles now. But a large part of her heart — and stomach — are clearly still in Hawaii.

Aloha Kitchen

The cookbook is a loving look at some of the most iconic Hawaiian home-style dishes, the ones you queue up for at food trucks or Hawaiian plate-lunch spots, or look forward to most if you’re lucky enough to be invited to a local’s backyard family feast. Turn the pages and feast on everything from “Soy-Glazed Spam Musubi” and “Loco Moco” to “Ginger Misoyaki Butterfish” and “Double-Chocolate Haupia Pie” and prepare to get very hungry.

That’s especially sage advice with the kalbi ribs because the recipe makes enough to feed a small army. Or at least eight people handily. But you can also make just half the recipe. Or cook half, and freeze the remainder for another time.

This recipe is ideal for summer entertaining because you marinate the ribs overnight in the fridge in a flavorful mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, dark brown sugar, ginger, and garlic. The flanken-cut beef ribs are easily available in the butcher case of Korean or Asian markets. Just prepare for sticker shock if you make the entire recipe. I bought 6 pounds of choice flanken ribs at my local Korean market and it rang up to about $74.

Beef ribs are cross cut in the classic Korean style.

Beef ribs are cross cut in the classic Korean style.

The next day, just grill them for all of 5 minutes per side and you are good to go. If the weather’s not cooperating, you can broil them instead. Yup, in a flash, your main course is done and you can go back to mingling with your guests.

Serve with lots of steamed rice. Add kimchi, creamy mac salad, potato salad, or a green salad with an Asian-style vinaigrette, and you are good to go.

The ribs take on an almost an Asian jerky flavor — very caramel-like — along with a delicious smokiness from the grill.

It’s like a vacation in your mouth.

Hungry yet?

Hungry yet?

Maui-Style Kalbi Short Ribs

(Serves 6 to 8)

2 cups soy sauce (shoyu)

1 1/4 cups water

3/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar

One 4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated

6 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, 1/2-inch-thick-flanken style (Korean or cross-cut), or 4 pounds boneless beef short ribs, 1/2-inch thick flanken style Korean or cross-cut)

Toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish

A few green onions, white and green parts, chopped, for garnish


In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic until well combined. Divide the short ribs into two or three gallon-size ziplock bags and pour equal parts of the marinade into each bag. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, though 24 hours is recommended for optimal flavor. Turn the bags at least three times during the marinating period.

Heat your grill to medium. Remove the ribs from the marinade and cook them to your desired doneness, 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. If the ribs seem to be burning, adjust the heat to medium-low and cook for a minute or two longer on each side. Alternatively, you can broil them in the oven for 5 minutes on each side. Garnish the ribs with toasted white sesame seeds and chopped green onions before serving.

Note: You can freeze half of the marinated ribs and grill them later; simply drain the marinade from the bag before freezing them.

From “Aloha Kitchen” by Alana Kysar


More For Your Hawaiian Feast: Butter Mochi


And: Chocolate Butter Mochi


And: Coconut Macadamia Banana Bread

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One comment

  • I bought the same cookbook! The recipes really look on point for Hawaii grindz. Have to say, never really been a fan of kalbi because I’m a lazy eater and hate dealing with the bones. I’ve mostly been flipping through the dessert section of the cookbook. LOL

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